Here are previews for boys basketball programs in the Observer’s coverage area in South Carolina. The profiles were put together by Observer correspondent Jay Edwards.
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Head Coach: Richard Carsner (3rd year as Ashbrook basketball coach).
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Coaching Career Record: 27-30 at Ashbrook; 184-46 career.
2016-17 Record: 10-17 (6-8 in Big South Conference).
2017-18 Conference: Big South Conference/3A.
Returning Starters (4): Ja’Quail Brown, Sr. F (6-0); Cameron June, Sr. G (5-11); Byron Sanders, Sr., G/F (6-0); Justin Lucas, Sr., G (6-0). Key Newcomers: James Dotson, So., F/C (6-5); Tykel Roseboro, Jr., G/F (6-0); Chris Britt, Fr., PG (5-9).
Outlook: Ashbrook will have the experience with four senior starters back, led by Brown (9 ppg) and June (7 ppg) to challenge for the Big South conference title. The Green Wave’s quickness and defensive pressure will also make them a difficult postseason matchup in a one-and-done scenario.
Head Coach: Scott Harrill (18th year as Cherryville basketball coach).
Coaching Career Record: 322-141.
2016-17 Record: 12-15 (8-8 in the Southern Piedmont 1A Conference (SPC 1A)).
2017-18 Conference: Southern Piedmont 1A Conference (SPC 1A).
Returning Starters (1): Matt Cain, Jr., G/F (6-2).
Other Key Returnees: Nathan Jeffers, Jr., C (6-4); Lane Harrill, So., G (6-1); Justin Alexander, So., G/F (6-1); Clint Gantt, Sr., PG (5-7). Key Newcomers: Lavonte Hughes, Fr., PG (5-9).
Outlook: Cherryville has had back-to-back losing season, going 22-31 in from 2015-17, a rarity for a program with a strong tradition. The Ironmen have another challenge ahead of them this year after losing eight seniors and returning only one starter in Cain (5 ppg). Cherryville will need some of its promising young talent in Alexander, Harrill, Hughes and Jeffers to step into bigger roles if they are going finish in the middle of the pack in the league and return to the playoffs.
Head Coach: Chris Rayfield (3rd year as Forestview basketball coach).
2016-17 Record: 3-24 (2-12 in the Big South Conference).
2017-18 Conference: Big South Conference/3A.
Returning Starters (3): John Gibbs, Sr., F (6-3); Darian Anderson, Jr., G (6-1); Jalen Neely Baldwin, Sr., G (5-11). Key Newcomers: Raglen Miller, So., G (6-1); Ka’ron Golightly, Jr., F (6-3).
Outlook: Forestview has had some tough times of late with only nine wins in the past two seasons combined. But, with three starters back in the lineup, led by Anderson (12 ppg, team offensive MVP) and Gibbs (team defensive MVP), the Jaguars are looking to climb out of the bottom of the league standings and get in the win column more to help the program get going back in the right direction.
Head Coach: Jeremy Webb (2nd year as Gaston Christian basketball coach).
Coaching Career Record: 5-17.
2016-17 Record: 5-17 (1-8 in the Metrolina Athletic Conference (MAC)).
2017-18 Conference: Metrolina Athletic Conference/NCISAA 3A.
Returning Starters (5): Kevin Chitu, Sr., F (6-4); Braden McGuirt, So., PG (5-11); Cedric Patterson, So., G (5-9); Blake Lanier, So., G/F (6-3); Nick Steward, Jr., F/C (6-5). Key Newcomers: Ryan Grice; Joey Nieminen; Michael Peters.
Outlook: Gaston Christian has only won 20 games in the last seven years combined. However, with all five starters back, including Chitu, Lanier, McGuirt, Patterson and Steward, the Eagles could have one of their best seasons in recent history. But, nothing will come easy in the brutal, MAC, where it still will be tough to climb from near the bottom of the league standings. But Gaston Christian looks to help a young team gain confidence, get more wins and grow together for the now and into the future.
Head Coach: Trent McCallister (3rd year as Gaston Day basketball coach).
Coaching Career Record: 37-14.
2016-17 Record: 23-4 (10-0 to Metrolina Athletic Conference (MAC) title).
2017-18 Conference: Metrolina Athletic Conference/NCISAA 2A.
Returning Starters (4): Nate Hinton, Sr., PG (6-6) (Houston University commit); Quan McCluney, Sr. G/F (6-6) (College of Charleston commit); M.J. Armstrong, Sr., G (6-3); Demilade Adelekun, Jr., F (6-8).
Other Key Returnees: John Crump, Jr., G (6-3). Key Newcomers: N/A.
Outlook: Gaston Day has the size and talent to be even better than last year when they won 23 games and advanced to the NCISAA 2A state semifinals, where they lost an 82-80 heartbreaker to Village Christian. This season, the Spartans will have plenty of motivation and the experience, led by senior guards, Armstrong (15 ppg), Hinton (19 ppg/Houston commit) and McCluney (17 ppg/College of Charleston commit) to win the MAC again and try to finish their high school careers as state champions.
Head Coach: Walter Wallace (7th year as Hunter Huss basketball coach).
Coaching Career Record: 114-48.
2016-17 Record: 19-8 (12-2 in the Big South Conference).
2017-18 Conference: Big South Conference.
Returning Starters (2): Blake Wilson, Sr., G/F (6-6); Sa’veon Falls, Sr., F (6-4).
Other Key Returnees: Tony Davis, Jr., G/F (6-3); Jahleer Black, Sr., F (6-4); Suany Jimenez, Sr., F (6-3). Key Newcomers: Deneil Mackins, So., G/F (6-2); Zo Wallace, So., F (6-3); Trent Ostrander, So., F/C (6-5); Dontavious Nash, Jr., G (6-1).
Outlook: Hunter Huss returns seven seniors, including two starters in Wilson (17 ppg) and Falls (8 ppg, 5 rpg) from a team that won 19 games, including 12-2 in the Big South Conference. This year, the Huskies will again challenge for the league title, while their experience make a tough playoff matchup.
MOUNTAIN ISLAND CHARTER
Head Coach: William Dunn (2nd year as Mountain Island Charter basketball coach).
Coaching Career Record: 15-10.
2016-17 Record: 15-10 (10-6 in the Southern Piedmont 1A Conference (SPC 1A)).
2017-18 Conference: Piedmont Athletic Conference 7 (PAC 7)/1A.
Returning Starters (3): Jalen Thomas, Sr., G (5-10); Javeon Dunn, Sr., G (5-6); C.J. Stephens, Sr., G (6-1). Key Newcomers: N/A.
Outlook: The Raptors have made progress in each of the last three seasons, with 15 wins a year ago. This year, that task gets tougher in the new, PAC 7 1A conference, where Mountain Island Charter will lean on its senior backcourt in Dunn (9 ppg, 4 apg), Stephens (8 ppg, 6 rpg) and Thomas (14 ppg) to stay in the thick of the league race and get to the playoffs for the 3rd straight season.
Head Coach: Wes Hepler (2nd year as North Gaston basketball coach).
Coaching Career Record: 133-107.
2016-17 Record: 9-16 (4-10 in the Big South Conference).
2017-18 Conference: Big South 3A Conference.
Returning Starters (3): Austin Primm, Sr., F (6-5) (Appalachian State baseball commit); Drew Shaw, Jr., F (6-5); Tyrese McNeal, So., G (6-1). Key Newcomers: L.T. Thomas, Fr., G (6-1).
Outlook: Former Myers Park coach, Wes Hepler, helped the North Gaston to a respectable 9-16 record in his 1st year in charge. This year, with three starters back in McNeal, Primm and Shaw, the Wildcats look to earn a winning record and get into the playoff picture in an ultra-competitive, Big South conference.
Head Coach: Kody Kubbs (7th year as South Point basketball coach).
2016-17 Record: 17-11 (9-5 in the Big South 3A Conference).
2017-18 Conference: Southwestern 2A Conference (SW2A).
Returning Starters (4): Blake Zieske, Sr., G (6-2); Moses Nueman, Sr., F (6-6); Scooch Baker, Sr., G (6-0); Blake Turner, Jr., G (5-11). Key Newcomers: N/A.
Outlook: South Point is coming off its best season in school history going 17-11, advancing to the 3rd round of the 3A state playoffs. This year, the Red Raiders believe they can continue that momentum into the new, Southwestern 2A conference. South Point has the balance, experience and talent inside in Nueman (11 ppg, 5 rpg) and outside in Zieske (14 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg), Baker (6 ppg) and Turner (9 ppg) to be even better this season. South Point is ready to contend for the SW2A conference title and make another deep playoff with a veteran team that knows how to win in the postseason.
Note: Bessemer City, East Gaston, Highland Tech, Stuart Cramer and Piedmont Charter didn’t respond to our request for preseason boys’ basketball information.